By Stephanie Etherington-Bell

Determining what your customers actually need – not what you think they want – will help you ensure long-term business resilience and success. At Shippit we power delivery to thousands of customers every month from hundreds of retailers across Australia. Dive deeper into our proven principles below to implement a highly effective and future-proof digital customer experience strategy.

Understand your customer

It sounds simple, but sometimes it’s anything but.

I look after all of our contact centres and interactions with customers from big shipping companies and global ecommerce retailers to sole traders who from a tech perspective are far less mature and the end customer who ultimately receives a parcel. I’m responsible for delivering a great experience so all of these customers stay with Shippit. One of the challenges we have is to deliver the right level of service to the right customer at the right time. How we do that is to really understand the different segments and the variance in the needs they have. We do that with digital profiling and tracking the right metrics, but also from a bit of gut feel and understanding the way these segments are changing over time.

Individual customers, individual needs

The days of generic customer service are long gone.

Today it’s about delivering a highly nuanced and personalised solution tailored to a customer’s specific needs, rather than a blanket response. Take the time to understand each customer type so you can provide clear answers tailored for exactly what they require to solve their problem or fulfil their business requirement.

Tailor your teams

We have about 2,500 customers so fulfilling their individual needs can be challenging. That’s why we have separated the teams in our contact centre into specialisations. Each team understands a very specific aspect of the market, and may have a different method of working with their customer than the next team. For example, we wouldn’t work the same way with a retailer who is running 200 stores in Australia as we would an individual who is managing a single ecommerce store out of their home.

Understand the people within the organisation you are dealing with

Identify the audience within an organisation for the support services you are providing. We have customers with extensive IT and supply chain departments within their organisations whose technical understanding of the Shippit product is very high, but we also have customers who don’t have that kind of support network in their organisation. If you can understand your customer’s technical maturity you will save a lot of time that otherwise would be wasted asking them questions they simply can’t answer. If someone is working out of their garage and they’ve just downloaded Shippit we are only going to infuriate them and jeopardise that relationship if we ask them really difficult questions. But if we are dealing with client with a strong customer support time they will understand that question, and respond it allowing us to improve their satisfaction. Either way, you can no longer have a ‘one customer’ approach.

The future is multi-platform

The customer now wants to be able to contact you anytime, anywhere and anyhow. We’ve gone from being email and telephone heavy to providing always-on services across multiple platforms from WhatsApp and Facebook to Live Chat and more. Engaging with customers across multiple channels can be challenging, so we strive to create a single unified network with no barriers to entry.

Find out some key areas in your technology stack that might be impacting your customer’s experience here.

Predictive support will be key

Predictive support allows you to see issues and questions coming through before you’ve got to that pain point.

As customers start using our technology it enables us to get an understanding of where they might be encountering issues and need something explained in greater depth. That insight then allows us to provide solutions. For example, as you are using Shippit there may be additional tips coming up if we know there’s been a challenge in that area before. We’ve also developed initiatives that allow you to access help within the platform while you are using it, so you are receiving a solution real time rather than needing to contact us post-issue.

AI is coming, but humans are not going

The use of AI and machine learning will be a huge part of where customer service goes into the future. It’s partly driven by the need to provide anytime anywhere support, because that will eventually be challenging to do with people alone. AI has enabled the development of personalised customer service journeys done entirely by chat bots. It’s not always what people want to hear, but if that technology provides us with instant insights and resolutions we should be exploiting it. The empathy angle will still come from the customer service people who are experts in their field, so what we will see is a blended service that will take the best of both worlds. It will be relevant and factual, but with a human edge that makes it authentic.

With more and more customers getting chatty, chatbots are reshaping conversational commerce and changing the game for online retailers. Find out more about AI and conversational commerce here.

Customer service and product development will merge

Customer service in the software and technology space will work more closely with product development teams so feedback from the customer is going immediately to enhancing and improving the product. At Shippit I’d like to see product building and service delivery almost becoming a single unit.

Feels will be real

Customer service has historically been about meeting the needs of the customer, but what we now need to focus on is how people feel about that interaction. Not just fixing the issue or answering the question, but leaving the customer feeling positive and satisfied about using our technology. Again, that’s where the empathy and “humanness” comes in. But it’s about way more than a cheesy “feel good” factor: through creating a more enjoyable experience, the customer will feel more confident and inclined to use our products and services. As the level of trust builds and customers see us as a trusted support to their business, our business can build in turn by offering more support, more products and more services.

Take a look at 7 easy tips to nail your customer experience (CX) so you can be the hero your consumers deserve here.